La Liga: Predicting the Top 5 Teams at the End of the 2014/15 Campaign

Cronan YuContributor IIIAugust 23, 2014

La Liga: Predicting the Top 5 Teams at the End of the 2014/15 Campaign

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    For the first time in 10 years, Barcelona and Real Madrid both failed to claim the La Liga title, with Atletico Madrid being the main beneficiaries, taking out their first league crown since 1995/96—their 10th in total. 

    For neutrals, it was a sight to behold. Dubbed the "blackhorse," Atletico managed to hold on for a memorable victory after a drama filled final day of the season. And now, with the floodgates open, the 2014/15 La Liga season promises to be the best yet. 

    So, without further ado, we boldly predict the teams that will linger at the top of the table at season's end.

5. Valencia

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    For Valencia, an eighth-placed finish in La Liga last season was well below par. Understandable, though, given their highly publicised problems under former coach Miroslav Djukic. 

    However, a run into the semi-finals of the Europa League, before being knocked out by eventual champions Sevilla, will be a massive confidence boost heading into this season.

    Nevertheless, a top-five finish is a tough ask, given that a whole host of star names opted for greener pastures during this transfer window—the likes of Jeremy Mathieu, Seydou Keita and Vicente Guaita—all of whom played pivotal roles last season. 

    If history is anything to go by, though, they have everything it takes for a top-five finish. 

4. Sevilla

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    For Sevilla, the only way is up. 

    Under Unai Emery's guidance last season, Sevilla enjoyed unprecedented success. So while they managed a top-five finish in the league, it was in the Europa League itself where they stood out, beating Benfica on penalties to seal the triumph.

    Indeed, Ivan Rakitic, their all-important playmaker, may have left for Barcelona, but Emery managed to pick up Blaugrana youngsters Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suarez, two players who will be expected to lead the side's attack alongside Iago Aspas and Kevin Gameiro.

    With confidence behind them, expect them to go one better than last season and salvage a top-four finish.

3. Atletico Madrid

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    For the first time in 10 years, Atletico Madrid head into the competition as champions, and they will be hoping to win back-to-back La Liga titles.

    And their season got off to a perfect start with a Spanish Supercopa win over cross-town rivals Real Madrid by a slim margin, and Diego Simeone's troops will be hoping to continue their good run of form.

    However, the departures of key players like Diego Costa and Felipe Luis, both to Chelsea, could prove to be big losses for the club. While they have recruited well and signed former Bayern Munich attacker Mario Mandzukic and Real Sociedad winger Antoine Griezmann, defending their title against sides which have once again splashed the cash during the transfer window could prove to be a challenge. 

    Diego Simeone, being the stoic man that he is, would continue to harbour hopes of replicating their dream run last season. But, given the quality of the two Clasico rivals, it will be hard to usurp both of them once again for the title.

2. Barcelona

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    Following what was a disappointing 2013/14 season, Barcelona will be hoping things won't be the same this time around.

    Initially, the appointment of Gerardo Martino seemed like a masterstroke as the Catalans got off to a flying start, epitomised by their 7-1 home win against Levante on Matchday 1. A culmination of off-field issues relating to transfers and a lack of tactical direction on-field saw Barcelona slowly slip into obscurity.

    A new season, though, brings news challenges and renewed hopes. And expectations will be placed upon Enrique to breathe life back into an uninspired outfit. A series of new signings puts Barcelona in good stead for the season ahead. However, it is yet to be seen whether or not the former Barca "B" coach can find a "plan B" to their usual "tiki taka" style of play.

    Nevertheless, expect the Blaugrana to challenge Real Madrid for the title.

1. Real Madrid

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    While a lack of consistency last season ultimately cost them the chance to claim an historic treble, the confidence they gained from the Champions League and Copa del Rey triumphs mean Real Madrid are favourites to take out the La Liga title. 

    True to form, Los Blancos have yet again recruited well throughout the summer. Los Blancos have managed to sign players such as James Rodriguez, as per the Guardian, Toni Kroos, via the Daily Mail and Keylor Navas, as noted by BBC Sport. They will bring additional strength in depth to an already world-class line-up. 

    Indeed, their pre-season form was far from great, perhaps impacted by the ongoing transfer speculation surrounding the futures of some of the side's key players. However, as the squad continues to gel and adapt, expect them to take the league by storm.